Global Responsibility By Pooja Agarwal

‘Global responsibility’ and ‘The affluent Indian consumer’ where on the agenda at the International Herald Tribune’s Sustainable Luxury Conference 2010.

Global responsibility

On 24th March 2010, international guests mingled at a party on the lawns of Delhi’s luxurious Imperial Hotel as a preview to a two-day conference helmed by IHT’s fashion editor Suzy Menkes and filled with panel talks with designers, brand representatives, journalists and business owners.

A renewed desire for ‘true luxury’ meant a call for deeper brand experiences.

Suzy Menkes suggested we adopt “Parampara” as the pathway for ‘Sustainable Luxury’, in the new global socio-economic environment. In the parampara system, knowledge is passed down (undiluted) through successive generations. The Sanskrit word literally means uninterrupted series.

Anil Chopra, Advisor – Beauty & fashion of Hindustan Unilever Ltd explained, “Luxury is not just a badge that an Indian would show off, but it has to be India relevant in terms of culture, heritage and values …. Our “Parampara”. The Indian affluent class is seeking best brands best quality and best service but also likes celebrating it’s Indianness. Their purchasing power is immense. By 2013 it will be equivalent to 25th largest economy in today’s world.”

Anna Zegna, Image Director of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group stressed on the importance of Responsible Luxury for whom ethical values have always been a part of the family business.

European fashion gurus – Dries Von Noten and Roberto Cavalli – and Indian designers – Manish Arora and Sabyasachi Mukherjee – shared views on working with India to Bollywood vs. Hollywood and building a global Indian designer brand to understanding the affluent Indian consumer.

Separately, in a video interview, Stella McCartney encouraged to “think more globally, to be more responsible.”

For Cavalli, the popular Italian designer, Luxury means ‘freedom’. “Luxury is not just about money. Every person should be free,” he said. He was all praise for India saying, “All over the world, we get ideas from India. My colours are for India.”

Pia Singh, chairman of DLF Retail Developers Ltd spoke on building a luxury environment in India. Her project, the Emporio Mall in New Delhi is the epicenter of haute brands in an international luxury-shopping space.

Dr. Amin Jaffer, international director of Asian Art at Christies spoke about Indian princes and their long association with western luxury brands. Luggage from Louis Vuittton and Hermès were especially made to order. He also showed images of the Maharaja of Patiala’s extravagant jewellery from Cartier and Boucheron.

De Beers’ Executive Director, Stephen Lussier warned that the changing consumer is demanding product authenticity and wanting credible substantiation of a brand’s promise. Responsible Jewellery is what the industry should work towards, simply, “living up to diamonds”.